Words By: Mike Janney
Photos By: Boris Beyer
A busy week for the Pivot team saw us split over two events. Morgane and Matt were flying the flag in France for rounds 5 and 6 of the Enduro World Series in Loudenvielle, while Bernard, Emilie and Sam were racing at Lenzerhide in Switzerland for the Downhill World Cup.
A home race for Emilie was made even more special as this would be her final time competing in Switzerland in front of family, friends and home fans.
Wednesday - Downhill Track Walk, EWS Training
Track walk on Wednesday at Lenzerhide saw few changes to a well raced track. High speed bike park berms and jumps linked up some more awkward steep and technical sections. Taping changes added some inside line choices but the overall feel of the track was unchanged from previous years racing.
Training at Loudenvielle was a very wet and soggy affair. A big storm rolled through soaking the track and riders, making the dirt super slippery and slick. Matt was enjoying the tracks even in the wet. Some exposed ridgeline riding stated most stages with some amazing corners before riders plunged into the woods for challenging roots
Morgane was finding her way through the tricky stages, learning lines and features as she went. A crash on an awkward rock section saw her land heavily on the leg. Able to finish the day training, Morgane was sore but would race the next day.
Thursday - Downhill Training, EWS Race 1
Emilie, Bernard and Sam were getting up to speed on the dry and fast Lenzerhide track. The taping changes were making some sections trickier than expected with holes and ruts forming in the soft ground. Bernard was enjoying the jumps on the track, mixing speed with style during training and was throwing whips and scrubs wherever possible.
Wet training had left the stages slick and cut up for race one in Loudenvielle. Stage 3 was cancelled due to more overnight rain but the shortened day was no less challenging. Morgane started out with a solid 6th place on stage one. While battling some pain after her training day crash, she was happy to get into the race and loosen up.
Stage one and two were a struggle for Matt to find the flow, 17th on stage one and 37th with a small crash on stage 2 left him with some time to gain back.
The next stage was a rider’s favorite, some fast open grass turns had been drying throughout the day and Matt came through foot out, drifting and pinned. 6th on the stage pushed Matt back up the overall timings. Morgane was enjoying the tracks and holding onto 7th overall with safe and consistent riding.
The final and queen stage started on the Loudenvielle Aerodrome runway. Morgane took off into the stage and through the rough forest. The trails had been drying throughout the day however some areas were still muddy and Morgane had to keep her concentration high and riding precise. Finishing with a 5th on the stage jumped her onto 6th overall, a great result following a training crash.
Matt was continuing his comeback after a slow start. 11th on the stage and gaining more time back he finished the day in 16th happy with two stages but frustrated with his slow start.
Friday - Downhill Qualifying, EWS Rest Day
Emilie’s qualifying run was looking good, carrying speed through the upper sections and bike park berms; she was on track for a top ten time. Disaster struck just before the last split, a puncture slowed her down dramatically on the final straight and over the final drop. Still pushing hard, Emilie crossed the line in 16th, missing out on qualifying by less than half a second.
Emile was gutted to miss out at her final home race but was relieved to have friends and family around to help ease the disappointment.
Bernard had a safe run to ensure he made the main event, riding clean he finished 26th ready to attack the finals. Sam finished his run in 56th, less than two seconds off qualifying for the main event. Still having fun and learning at each race Sam is finding the last few bits of the puzzle to put together after one mistake cost him.
Saturday - Downhill Finals, EWS Race 2 Pro Stage
Light rain was falling when Bernard went up for his race run, not ideal on a track with such tight times and racing. Starting strong he was up by the smallest margins at the first few splits. Looking strong and precise through the rough and steep sections Bernard came into the last split 0.2 seconds faster then the current fastest time despite the rain.
A rear wheel drift on the last chicane before the huge Red Bull drop saw Bernard lose momentum. Crossing the line in 5th just over a second back. A close race followed seeing Bernard finish in 25th. Frustrated with the mistake and rain, Bernard knew there was more potential but leaves Europe knowing the speed is there for the final rounds in Snowshoe.
The EWS Pro Stage was one training run followed immediately by a timed run to start round 6 of the EWS. A fresh stage was used that started with some fast open and flowy single track before tightening up through some woods at the halfway point.
Morgane was feeling better after the rest day and finished within 3 seconds of the fastest time. Incredibly tight times saw this good enough for 7th on the stage with all to play for the next day.
Matt rode to 13th on the stage, feeling good on the technical riding but with heavy legs on the short uphill sprint he knew there was more to come going into the next day of racing.
Sunday - EWS Race 2
Matt and Morgane headed out into the sunshine at Loudenvielle ready for a big day on the bike. The dry conditions favored risks and pushing harder on the bikes, Morgane started the day with a 5th while Matt started strongly with a 10th place finish on stage 2.
Stage 3 was a short but steep test, Morgane lit up the time sheets with a stage win, pushing her up four places in the overall timings. Matt suffered his worst stage of the race with too many mistakes. Making up for lost time Matt finished inside the top 10 on the next two stages, pushing him back into the running for the overall.
Another stage win and top 5 finish followed for Morgane, pushing her into 2nd overall with two stages to go. She let it rip the final two stages, pushing hard and riding strong. She maintained her second place overall after one of the closest races in EWS memory.
The final stage was a rerun of the pro stage, but this time the track was drier and more blown out. Enjoying the consistent conditions Matt attacked the first few minutes of single track before riding safely through the tight woods. A brilliant 3rd place finish on the stage gave Matt a great 5th place finish in the overall for round 6.
A great week racing all round ended with great results from Matt and Morgane also left Pivot Factory Racing second in the 2021 EWS Team Championship.